Spotlight on Health: Let’s Talk Turkey…and Holiday Food Safety

Happy Thanksgiving! As we all get ready to gorge on our yummy feasts, we thought we would we bring you this post about turkey day food safety, originally posted on November 27, 2014. Enjoy!

Mmm...turkey!

Mmm…turkey!

Today is Thanksgiving and turkey is on everyone’s mind. But there is one other thing we should all be mindful of as we get ready for the day’s big meal: food safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Clostridium perfringens is the second most common cause of food poisoning from bacteria. Most outbreaks (92%) are caused by meat and poultry.

Here are few tips from the CDC on safely preparing, cooking, and storing your Thanksgiving feast for a happy, healthy holiday:

  • Always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces immediately after handling raw poultry.
  • If using a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw your bird at a safe temperature. Bacteria thrives between 40 and 140°F.
  • The three safest ways to thaw your turkey (and any other frozen food) are (1) in the refrigerator; (2) in cold water; and (3) in the microwave. See the USDA’s “Safe Methods for Thawing” website to learn more.
  • To stuff in or out of the bird? The CDC’s answer to this debate is “for optimal safety and uniform doneness,” cook your stuffing outside the turkey in a separate casserole dish.
  • Always use a meat thermometer when cooking your turkey and be sure your turkey reaches a safe minimal internal temperature of 165°F. Stick the thermometer into the meatiest portions of the turkey breast, thing, and wing.
  • Refrigerate your Thanksgiving leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within 2 hours of preparation. This can prevent food poisoning. Be sure to keep your leftovers at 40°F or below.

For more information on having a safe food holiday, check out the CDC’s “It’s Turkey Time” website.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library!

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